A Formal Petition to Address Graduate Student Grievances at FAU
We, the graduate students of Florida Atlantic University, petition the university administration to engage in a serious conversation with its graduate students and department representatives regarding the conditions of our employment. By collectively offering our signatures, we express our discontent at the current situation and indicate our support for department representatives and students who advocate for change in light of the following grievances.
1. Stipends: GTA/GRA stipends have not received a significant increase for more than 10 years. In the College of Arts and Letters, the last pay raise was 20 years ago. We have calculated that the current Ph.D. and Master’s GTA/GRA have a monthly deficit of at least $450 and $1000 respectively. This is a problem particularly because students are contractually obligated to work ONLY for the university and students who attempt to supplement their income are vulnerable to disciplinary action.
2. Health Insurance: Due to increases in Healthcare Premiums in the Affordable Care Act, myriad graduate students have forgone purchasing health insurance because they are unable to afford it. While there are student insurance plans at FAU, these plans cost $1448 and $2960 annually for international and domestic students respectively. As a result, these plans are unaffordable to the majority of the graduate students.
3. Fees: Full-time graduate students are required to pay an average of $681.89 for in-state students and $962.60 for out-of state students, per semester in fees. These costs represent a significant hit to our stipends. Per our calculations, it can be seen that graduate students pay anywhere from 8.5% (Ph.D. candidates) to 17% (MA students) of their stipends back to the school in fees alone.
4. Subsidized Graduate Student Housing: Since 2009, the average cost of rent for 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments has increased 35% and 40% respectively. Unfortunately, GTA/GRA stipends have not been adjusted for this increase.
We feel that if FAU seeks to accomplish its goal of becoming an internationally respected teaching and research university, significant changes must be applied to improve the financial security of the graduate student body. By making these changes, we feel that it will not only encourage prospective graduate students at FAU to apply for GTA and GRA positions, but also increase recruitment from prospective graduate students outside of the school. In order to become more competitive with other universities, we suggest the following:
1. Stipends for Ph.D. students increased to $30K and stipends for Master's students increased to $15K annually.
2. A waiver for FAU Health Insurance.
3. A waiver for student fees.
4. Add subsidized housing for graduate students.
5. More accurate representation for graduate student interests at FAU.
6. Written agreement that these financial issues will be readdressed every 3-5 years.
7. A Union building for graduate students to meet/discuss/work.
8. Increase student travel funding budget by 25% to $100,000 and provide a more efficient and direct distribution of funds throughout the academic year.
Please sign this petition in order to demonstrate your discontent with conditions as they now stand. In signing this petition, you urge the university administration to engage in an open dialogue with all department representatives and graduate students about how our work conditions can be improved.
The FAU Starving Grads